4 min read


Can Dogs Feel Under the Weather?



4 min read


Can Dogs Feel Under the Weather?


Unless you're a superhuman with an impenetrable immune system, we've all been sick. Whether it's the cold, the flu, or something else, whenever we're sick, all we want to do is curl up with our furry best friend and wait until we finally feel better. But many owners worry that perhaps they'll spread their sickness or illness to their dog, or even whether or not their dog can get sick in the first place. 

They're almost always so happy, so it's hard to imagine your dog ever feeling sick. It turns out that yes, dogs, just like us, can feel under the weather. Of course, there are dog-specific diseases, like parvo, ringworm, and more that can make our dogs feel sick. But it turns out that dogs can actually get both colds and the flu too! 

As a woofer-owner, that may be disheartening to hear. But luckily, there's a ton of stuff we can do as fur-parents to keep our little munchkins happy and healthy, and if they're already sick, ways we can make them feel better more quickly!


Signs Your Dog is Feeling Under the Weather

How your dog reacts to a sickness like the cold or the flu depends on their genetic makeup, breed, size, and more. When it comes to colds, luckily, we can't pass a cold virus between man's best friend and, well, man. Also luckily, we should be able to recognize symptoms of a cold in our doggos pretty quickly, since they look a lot like ours! 

For one thing, they're just going to be, well, different or off. You know your dog better than anyone - their habits, their likes and dislikes, and their favorite things to do. Like humans, dogs that aren't feeling well aren't going to want to do much of anything until they start to feel better.

They may not seem as spry during a morning run, may not want to chew on their favorite bone, or may not want to play when you get home from work. Sick dogs, also like us, may not want to eat either, so you may notice weight loss in a pupper that has a cold. Additionally, depending on what strain of the cold virus your dog has, they may get a runny nose, start sneezing more frequently, have a cough, a rattling noise in their chest, difficulty breathing, and watery eyes. 

When it comes to the flu, you need to be way more watchful. While a cold may go away on its own, depending on the strain of the flu your pup has, your dog may need to spend some nights in the vet before starting to feel better. Just like us, the flu can be deadly, so it's important that we notice the warning signs early, and make sure to take our woofers to the vet the second we recognize that they're a little sick. 

There are mild and severe strains, both of which cause different symptoms. And unfortunately, some of the strains are transferable between us and our furry friends. As for the former, symptoms of a mild flu in your doggo are going to look like a cold - a runny nose, a cough, or watery eyes. 

They will, however, last longer, so if your dog seems to be off for longer than a week, it may be time to bring them to the vet. As to the latter, a more severe flu can have similar symptoms, which may eventually even lead to a super-high (and unfortunately deadly) fever, blood with coughing, and weakness or lethargy.

Regardless, if your dog starts to look sick, it's always good to be safe rather than sorry. Even if its just a cold, taking your dog to the vet can cut down on the time your pup is sick, and getting them healthy again is all of our first priorities!

Body Language

Some symptoms of sickness in your pup include:

  • Whining
  • Shaking
  • Pacing
  • Weakness
  • Raspy Panting
  • Sweaty Paws
  • Dropped Ears
  • Whimpering
  • Whale Eye
  • Sleepiness

Other Signs

Some other cues that your pooch is sick are:

  • Shaking Or Trembling
  • High Fever
  • Sneezing, Coughing And A Runny Noise
  • Blood In The Mouth From Coughing Or In Stool
  • Acting Weird Or "Off"
  • Lack Of Appetite Or Weight Loss

The History of Sicknesses in Dogs


Like us, dogs have evolved into the floofy-little-balls of wonder that they are today. And with them, so too have the viruses and bacteria that can affect them. Sure, dogs no longer get the maladies that afflicted them 10,000 years ago when they were first domesticated because they have a different genetic makeup, and are exposed to different environments than they used to be. However, just as humans still can't shake that common cold, there are viruses out there that have evolved with dogs that can still affect them. 

Additionally, since we've domesticated doggos, they obviously spend more time with us. As a result, they're exposed more often to the flu, as well as other bacteria and viruses that are transferable between dogs and humans. While we domesticated our dogs into the perfect, little beings that they are now, it's also important that because of us, it's easier for them to get sick. So we need to keep an eye out for our furry friends!

The Science Behind a Cold or the Flu in Dogs


Unfortunately, many of these symptoms that come with the flu or a cold are also similar to symptoms of diseases that are both less dangerous and more dangerous. 

For example, a cough may just be a symptom of a kennel cough, which gets better on its own. Or, it could be an example of congestive heart failure, which causes fluid in the lungs that leads to coughing. As a result, whenever your dog exhibits some symptoms in sickness, it's a good idea to get your dog into the doctor to make sure they don't need treatment. 

Additionally, on the science side, you'll be glad to know that because of our genetic makeup, while it's possible to pass illnesses between you and your pup, it's usually pretty unlikely when it comes to things like the cold and the flu. So if you're feeling sick and all you want to do is cuddle with your bug, feel free to grab 'em and give 'em a big hug!


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By Katherine McCormick

Published: 04/06/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

Wag! Specialist
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